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Young villager takes on the dreaded Maoists

Monday, 17 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Patna | Agency: DNA

Even as the deadly tentacles of red terror seems to be spreading in virgin areas of Bihar, a lone woman crusader is working relentlessly in a dense Maoist-dominated pocket to ensure that the spread and influence is kept at bay.

The efforts of Jaya Devi 35 has brought her many a laurels and with it also comes an overwhelming threat to her life from the naxals who want to rule the roost. But unmindful of the lurking danger which manifests time and again with a systematic elimination of those close to her and working for a noble cause, she is on the mission to weave together the poor, the illiterate and the exploited women in the area in a cohesive group.

on July 2, 2011 a pall of gloom descended on Kailrali village in Munger district when the Maoists killed six of the people close to her and left behind pamphlets of, "Jaya Devi being the next."

The naxals have been threatening her time and again but that has not deterred her from binding the women into a cohesive group.

The all women group has already started working wonders in the field of intensive farming, marketing farm products, indoctrinating the youth not to join the fold of naxalism and also waging a war against exploitation of women which has been rampant in the area.

Since her childhood, Jaya Devi has been witness to all forms of exploitation be it at the hands of the usurious money lenders or the hands of the dabangs of the area. From a mute spectator in the initial years of her youth of the rampant exploitation of women in her area, she decided to finally raise her voice. The first task was obviously economic self reliance and getting rid of the usurious moneylenders. "I convinced the women in my locality to save a little, develop a bank and market the produce when the prices were high, " said Jaya

The farmers had problem of irrigation as no check dams existed and water from the adjoining hills in the rainy season went waste. Now the entire stretch of 31 villages which were regarded as highly naxal infested has water shed development projects and water for irrigation is available to the farmers even during the peak season.

The second biggest challenge faced by Jaya Devi was the threat emerging from the spread of naxalism. The youth of the area were becoming gullible targets as the naxals who roamed freely in the area recruited them in large numbers. Several meetings with the women in the area; sustained campaigns by Jaya devi helped curb the menace. The schools have now registered a stupendous growth in number of students and the youth gradually choosing mainstream rather than taking to left wing extremism.

Jaya took up the responsibility of a crusader at an early age. Married at an early age to a daily wage earner, she became the mentor and guide to her younger siblings and gradually for the entire village Saradhi.
Motivating the youth and the docile ignorant women of the area has now become her mission in life and each day unmindful of the looming threat she sets out on her mission paying visits to villages even in the remotest pockets convincing people and educating them.

Kishore Jiswal her mentor and a social activist of the area talking to dna said, "Jaya Devi has succeded in what even the entire government machinary could not accomplish. She has sizable following. People listen to her. No wonder the naxals who find their base eroding are threatening her."

In October 2010 Jaya's model earned her world acclaim when she addressed a conference in South Korea on 4th Asian Youth worker's programme. In January the much coveted national youth award, real heroes award in 2012 and most recently women of substance award by Rotary International has earned her a repute which other may dream of but hard to accomplish.

As one pays a visit to her area in Saradhi it's lush green fields, plenty of water bodies and self-reliant women's self-help groups toiling for a better living.

On the threat itself, she said, "It is there, but what do I do? I can't leave the work I started."

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